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I Find Love….With a Little Help

Love in the time of Facebook

A platform to help professional, educated individuals find their life-partner

“I think you should get married” – declared my mom, in the tone that she usually reserved for “Will you stop biting your nails!”

“Huh, Why?” I looked up blankly from my book.

“Because you are in your mid 20’s and everyone wants to know if I’m doing something about it and I know you’ll say YOU don’t care but I do, and….and anyway I was hoping you’d find someone when you went away to study but you didn’t and now….” : she carried on, in a tone that sounded increasingly desperate.

“Ok” : I said, and returned to my book; for at that moment Harriet Vane’s fate was of much greater interest to me than my own.

 

This conversation took place a decade ago, but I suspect the same words are being repeated in at least a hundred homes in middle class India as you read this. Ten years ago, you fell in love with a neighbour/schoolmate/ colleague, went through with the newspaper Matrimonials carrying advertisements of “very beautiful, slim, fair” girls and “BE, MBA, earning 6 figure salary” boys or surreptitiously found someone on shaadi.com and then claimed you were “family friends”. Now, there are dozens of match making websites whose fancy algorithms throw up hundreds of potential mates for you, and social networking platforms that make it easier to meet like minded people.

You’d think the singles would be jumping with joy, but why then is the number of singles-desperate-to-be-married increasing every year? There are the oft repeated arguments of social media ( FB & Twitter profile driven verdicts on a potential partner even before you’ve met), changing aspirations and the growing independence of women – but that doesn’t quite explain why finding love is getting tougher (for those interested in settling down).

Explains a friend who’s been working the “marriage channels” for a few years now : “The matrimonial sites are of no use – there are so many strange matches that show up that you need the Buddha’s patience to sift through the chaff. As for newspaper ads or meeting Sheila Aunty’s niece – I simply refuse to go with it. I work remotely so no chance of an office romance. And as I’m growing older, I find it increasingly difficult to adjust with people I don’t know – I prefer the comfort of hanging out with my gang, but I’m not going to find my life partner there. So how in heavens am I going to find her?”

Which got us thinking – wouldn’t it be great if someone – not Sheila Aunty or Bunty Uncle but a third party – could do the initial sieving based on factors other than ASL, religion, skin colour & salary? How about a passion for PJs, a lust for adventure or a zeal for baking? Wouldn’t these be much better predictors of success in marriage rather than being decent or slim? And is there anyone out there who is successfully offering this assistance?

Our search brought us to Floh, a.k.a. Find Life Over Here, a company that has been recognized by Forbes India as one of five start-ups to watch out for in 2014. My Big Red Bag in conversation with its founder, Siddharth Mangharam, on successfully connecting singles in real life.

How it all started

We founded Floh in 2011 based upon conversations with our single friends – the guys were always complaining that there weren’t any single women around, and the single women were wondering where all the single men had vanished! And yet, it’s apparent that there is an abundance of eligible men and women. The real issue is that there isn’t a platform for them to meet in a safe and comfortable way. And that’s how Floh was born.

Can anyone join Floh?

Our members are urban, educated and independent people, mostly in their 20s and early 30s as that’s when the desire to find a life-partner is strongest. About 90% of our members have a master’s degree. They are professionals and the network has lawyers, consultants, bankers, doctors, architects, non-profit professionals, and even a TED Fellow! They’ve studied at some of the finest institutions in India and across the world and are all gainfully employed.

This kind of demographic has a natural affinity towards Floh – they lead extremely busy lives and we make it easy for them to meet like-minded individuals and increase their chances of finding a life partner. We have over 1,200 members in the network, of which 54% are women.

We mostly have “never married singles” but are open to folks who are legally single.

Sounds interesting, how does one become a member? Can I get my best friend to sign up and maintain my profile for me?

We have paid membership plans for 3, 6 & 12 months – most people realize that finding a life partner can take time and our 6 and 12 month plans are more popular, since they also work out to be more economical.

Our members are highly successful people who want to control their own destinies, so they always sign up on their own! In fact, we insist upon this as part of our screening process – Floh calls every person before extending membership to ensure that our services will be of use to them and address any questions that they may have about Floh.

We’ve found that about 30% of our members have signed up after hearing about Floh from a parent or a sibling. Interestingly, we have a lot of men who have been members of Floh and then recommended it to their sisters, since they trust the system.

What happens after membership is approved?

We did some research and found that it takes anywhere between 6 months to a year for a person on a matrimonial site to get together with another person for a cup of coffee. And in 90% of these cases, they never meet again – imagine what a colossal waste that is! So our goal is to connect our members with as many people as possible in as short a time. At Floh, you are absolutely guaranteed to meet at least 30 singles in the first month that you’re a member.

There are several ways we make this happen, both online and offline. Online, all our members have hand crafted profiles and they can message each other for a coffee date. Offline, members can meet at a Floh Event, at a Table for Six (a lunch for six Floh members) or at The Floh Box Office (Floh members meet up for a movie, concert or show). Recently we have also started one on one introductions for our members.

Floh events are unique, hand crafted experiences for our members to connect over shared interests. From heritage walks to sailing to cooking & bar tending classes to solving a murder together, we have a tremendous variety of fun opportunities for our members to link up!

Where can we find Floh?

We’ve expanded from a single city (Bangalore) to over 15 cities across India, the Middle East and the US. Our vision is to be present in every city in the world where there’s a concentration of Indian professionals.

In 2013, 12 Floh couples got married after finding a partner at Floh. Our goal is to see that number go up a 1000 times.

What if I’m interested in meeting like minded people and doing fun stuff with them, but marriage is not my goal – Can I still join Floh?

Sure. We’ve learnt from Floh that most singles are open to a relationship, but only if it happens organically, i.e., “no pressure please”. When you bring together a group of fun, smart and passionate people, it’s easier to strike a friendship. As they get to know each other better, it is natural for relationships to blossom. All of this happens without any pressure and it’s actually quite magical to see it evolve over time.

You’ve been helping singles find their life partners for nearly four years now – what are some unexpected things you’ve learnt along the way?

We had a few startling findings when we conducted our research on single people last year. For instance, we learnt that as people grow older, their belief in love at first sight increases! We also learnt that although a majority of singles said they’d go ahead even if their families didn’t like their partner, respect for elders and family was one of the most important criteria for potential mates, even more important than shared hobbies.

When it comes to the first thing that people notice on a date, clothes are the most important for both men and women, though for some reason Delhi is obsessed with hair ; only women notice shoes – men never look at shoes. Finally, a quarter of men share their number but expect the woman to call them!

As a special offer for MBRB readers, Floh is offering an additional 6 months to readers who sign up for a six month plan before February 28, 2014. Simply mention “MBRB offer” when you fill up the form on http://floh.in. Floh will conduct their regular screening process.

 Image courtesy: www.floh.in

Editors Note:  This article is based upon our research and is not a paid endorsement. Neither of us is a member of Floh and we take no responsibility for the offer or its availability after the date of publication.

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